Men who took part in the perilous Arctic Convoys were honoured this month by the Russian Federation for their wartime heroism.
A total of 15 servicemen from across the North-east were presented with Russia’s Ushakov Medal at a special ceremony at the Town House in Aberdeen on Saturday, among them Deesider Herbert A. Twiddy.
From 1941 to 1945, Allied naval ships struck out from Scotland and Iceland to Russia, carrying with them food and weapons to assist the Soviets who were fighting for their lives against the brutal Nazi invader.
Over 3000 sailors lost their lives in the freezing waters, as the ships were hunted by Kriegsmarine U-boats.
Winston Churchill described the voyagew across the North Sea and toward the Arctic as the “worst journey in the world.”
Mr Twiddy spoke about his valour, with modesty: “The weather was horrendous.
‘‘Our ship went through one of the worst storms in the North Sea and we lost a third of our turret over the side of the ship. I got my duffle coat stuck on a hook after we were told to evacuate the turret and it was filling with water, but someone managed to get me loose.”
Mr Twiddy was barely out of boyhood when he went on his first convoy at just 17 years of age, as a message carrier between the gun crews and the bridge.
“Before I was 19, I spent two years on Russian convoys and managed to survive.”
The Russian Government has been trying for the last five years to honour the men of the convoys who literally carried life across the sea to the Soviet Union. However, it was not until this year that the UK government allowed Russia to dish them out.
The Ushakov Medal, named after Russia’s most acclaimed Navy commander Fyodor Ushakov, has been a state military award in Russia since 1944 and is given to those who demonstrated courage and prowess in sea warfare.
It is now awarded to veterans for “personal courage and valour shown during World War Two while participating in the Arctic Convoys.”
A total of 214 veterans in Scotland will be awarded by the consul general of Russia in Edinburgh, Andrey Pritsepov.
Those who also received it at the Aberdeen ceremony on Saturday were Edgar Allan, Henry Begg, Leonard Grant, John Burch, George Leiper, Robert Mackie, Arthur May, William McKay, Robert Owen, Evan Roberts, Ernest Robertson, John Sleigh, George Thomsonand James Whyte.
The medal was also awarded posthumously to Francis Cursiter, James Ireland and William Smith.
Mr Twiddy added: “It was a very nice ceremony.”